Justinian Lane

The Safer A Hospital Is, The Less Often It Gets Sued

Who ever would have guessed that the less often a hospital commits an error, the less it gets sued:

Reducing the number of preventable patient injuries in California hospitals from 2001 to 2005 was associated with a corresponding drop in malpractice claims against physicians, according to a study issued today by the RAND Corporation.

. . . .

More important, the study found a significant connection between the annual frequency of adverse events in each county, and the number of malpractice claims made. For example, under the model created by researchers, a county that experienced 10 fewer safety events in a given year would also expect to see a reduction of 3.7 malpractice claims during the same year, said study co-author Amelia Haviland, a RAND statistician

Source: RAND | News Release | Better Patient Safety Linked to Fewer Medical Malpractice Claims in California

I know this may be a crazy suggestion… but maybe… just maybe… the medical profession should focus on preventing adverse events from occurring, rather than focusing on limiting their liability when the events do occur.

Frequent TortDeform contributor Lee Tilson has been trying to get the medical profession to do this for years.  Surprisingly, he hasn’t made a lot of friends in the medical profession.  Apparently, doctors would rather fight for tort “reform” than fight for the safety of their patients.  For those who say that the medical profession DOES focus enough on patient safety, I ask you why errors like wrong site surgeries still occur.

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Posted at 4:53 PM, Apr 15, 2010 in Medical Errors | Medical Malpractice
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"Apparently, doctors would rather fight for tort “reform” than fight for the safety of their patients."

Nice! Way to generalize physicians.

Posted by: adam | April 16, 2010 9:22 AM

Well, doctors generalize about lawyers all the time. But more importantly, look at the amount of money spent lobbying by doctors to change tort laws vs. the money spent lobbying to make hospitals safer.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | April 16, 2010 12:19 PM

First, it's possible that the doctors are fighting for tort reform as a way of fighting for patient safety. (but I’m not here to argue that)

Secondly, like lawyers don't lobby like crazy to help their own profession.

But aside from that, my point is in your tone. Your harsh generalizations (and yes I doubt that soooooo many doctors are lobbying soooooo hard and don’t give a lick about their patients) turn your sometimes insightful posts about improving quality of life into a hate filled diatribe against doctors. As long as both sides act this way, no progress will ever be made. Stop sounding so damn bitter. Propose some meaningful, realistic solutions.

Also, why do errors like wrong surgery sites occur? Because like everyone else, doctors are flawed. Actually, the fact that so many mistakes and oversights have to occur proves my last statement. If you believe that physicians do this because they don't care about patient safety, then lets please take a poll of physicians who have done this before. I guarantee you that 99% of those doctors out there have enormous regrets and wish they could take it back. There aren't that many people on this planet that want to see harm to another individual. It's the other 1% you should be concerned about. That argument is about as good as saying that every time a lawyer loses a case, he wasn’t focused on the best interests of his client. If he was why did he lose? And in the lawyer case your statistics would be much worse, because there’s always a winner and a loser.

Posted by: Adam | April 16, 2010 1:06 PM

Adam, if I've sounded bitter, I don't mean to. It is frustrating that lawyers are constantly bashed and attacked from all sides. I agree wholeheartedly that if both sides are attacking each other, little progress will be made.

As I've said before, I have no interest in doing medmal suits unless it's GROSS negligence, like wrong patient surgery or a drunk doctor. Yet no doctor wants to talk to me about patient safety.

Doctors tell us that lawsuits won't make patients safer, and that we should trust them to protect the safety of patients. But how can we when errors like wrong site surgery still occur? If the medical profession hasn't figure out how to make sure they operate on the right body part, how can we trust them to solve tougher problems?

So many people in the medical profession live in absolute FEAR of lawyers. They look at lawyers as if they're terrorists, just waiting to destroy the life of every innocent doctor. This fear is stoked by medical malpractice insurers and the "reform" movement in general. This fear serves no one's best interest. It's also irrational. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't easy to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit.

I truly wish that doctors and lawyers could work together to share their knowledge on how to prevent adverse events from occuring. As the study shows (and common sense dictates) the fewer adverse events there are, the fewer medical malpractice lawsuits there will be.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | April 16, 2010 3:48 PM

Perhaps the lawyer can work on reducing his 80% failure rate in med mal, with the overwhelming majority of cases being weak. So any correlation with error rate is garbage.

The filing of a weak case is legal malpractice. Perhaps, the lawyer can end its self-dealt immunity from liability to third parties. The biggest culprit is the cult criminal on the bench.

If torts is a substitute for violence, then immunity is good intellectual and moral justification for self-help. The lawyer terrorist should be addressed to start with a boycott by all product and service providers. The word LAWYER should be printed in big font on all credit card, and driver licenses. That way the cult criminal could be expelled from all stores, clinics, offices, and refused service by all home service technicians. The lawyer is an internal traitor who must be stopped to save our nation from decline and destruction. The lawyer seeks to hand it over to criminals, terrorists, and miscellaneous social parasites. Why? To generate lawyer jobs, in the seeking of the rent.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | April 18, 2010 7:33 PM

You know what's interesting about your purported 80% failure rate? It presumes that the jury is right. If you believe that the jury was right EVERY time a jury finds for the defendant, you also have to presume that the jury is right EVERY time it finds for a plaintiff. Are you willing to do so?

I also wonder how many businesses would boycott lawyers if that meant the businesses couldn't hire lawyers to sue their deadbeat customers. Or to sue their competitors who steal intellectual property. Or to sue vendors who breach contracts.

Funny - no business wants to be sued, but no business wants restrictions on their own right to sue.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | April 18, 2010 7:51 PM